Health Effects of Tobacco

Tobacco has a predominantly negative history with human health. Smoking tobacco causes exposure to a lethal mixture that can damage nearly every organ in the human body.  More than 6 million people per year die across the globe from the use of tobacco. Most tobacco related deaths occur in middle and low income countries.  Tobacco is a common name used for several plants and it has long been grown and used by humans. The most important and dangerous constituents of tobacco are Nicotine, Carbon Monoxide and Tar. Most commonly used forms of tobacco are cigarette, bidi (most commonly used in India), cigar, hookah, snuff, tobacco chewing and E-cigarette. Diseases such as cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease are the leading cause of deaths associated to use of tobacco and affects all age groups. One person dies every 6 second due to use of tobacco.

Effects of tobacco on health

Physiology – Brain: Use of tobacco causes headaches and dizziness. Nicotine makes a person feel good when smoking but makes the person anxious, moody, nervous, and depressed after its intake. It can also lead to brain stroke.

Heart:  it increases blood pressure and heart rate and causes heart diseases. Heart of a tobacco addict has to work harder to keep up when extra physical work is put in.

Lungs: it causes troubled breathing because tobacco damages the lungs. Tobacco causes lung cancer, asthma, vigorous coughing and other lung diseases.

Mouth: Tobacco ruins taste buds and enables one from differentiating different flavours. It stains teeth giving it a yellow or brown colour and also causes bad breath. It causes bleeding of gums and mouth & throat cancer.

Muscles: It causes less flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles causing pain when done physical work.

In also causes increased susceptibility of infection, lowers fertility rate, damages the sperms, reduces sperm count, irregular periods, increased risk of miscarriage, early menopause and causes impotency.

Psychology – Smoking and anxiety: Smoking raises levels of anxiety and depression. Nicotine gives a short-lived feel good experience but it fades away quickly and causes anxiety. Intake of nicotine causes the brain to switch off the natural supply dopamine chemical, as the supply decreases people tend to smoke more.

Smoking and stress:  People may use tobacco or smoking as a stress buster and it also helps for a short period but it does not address the underlying causes of stress and causes greater health problems.

Tobacco not only affects the smokers but it also greatly affects the non-smokers.  Second-hand smoke is smoke from the burning of tobacco or tobacco products such as cigarette, cigar, bidi etc. It is the smoke exhaled by the smokers. It has its ill effects on non-smokers, specially the children and pregnant women although any person spending much time around smokers are at great risk of developing a tobacco or smoking related illness. Moreover, exposure to smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, still birth and placenta abruption. It decreases the oxygen level in the body which may cause premature birth. Because children are constantly exposed to second hand smoke they are at a greater risk of developing respiratory infection, slow or incomplete lung development, poor dental health, learning and behavioural problems.